Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Don't Stress Me Out

Did everyone enjoy your time off for the holidays?

I did.

I always enjoy my time off — right up to the point of the actual time off.

Let me explain.

Like Most U.S. Americans, I enjoy weekends, especially three- and four-day weekends. I look forward to them like a kid looks forward to the last three weeks of school where all they do is watch Disney movies. I start looking forward to my weekends as early as Monday or Tuesday of each week. I’ll say, “I can’t wait until Friday,” or something almost as original. Then the day gets here and all I can think about is, “Oh my goodness I’m going to have so much work to do when I get back. How will I get it all done?”

I enjoy the time off, right up to the point of actually taking time off. Then I spend the entire time thinking about all the work I have.

It’s called worry, stress, anxiety? Whatever you want to call it, it’s no fun.

The problem with stress is that it’s kind of like college football. It started out as a great thing then something called the BCS came along and ruined it.

But I digress.

Stress did, however, start as a good thing. Millions of years ago, when our cavemen ancestors were roaming around the streets of Dallas and beyond, there were instances when they needed to get away from things like saber-tooth tigers, rabid, post-menopausal squirrels and Kardashians.

Our bodies needed that stress to give us a sudden burst of energy to fight or escape. I believe scientists call it “fight or flight” syndrome — you either have to fight your way out of a situation or try to escape, kind of like what millions of U.S. Americans did on Black Friday.

Our ancestors got stressed, felt that burst of adrenaline, and then used it all up fighting or flighting.

Now fast forward, a million years or so. Today we get stressed for a variety of reasons. It could be that jerk who cuts you off in traffic, a boss who yells because a report isn’t quite right, or a lady who gobbles up the last X-Box on display on the biggest shopping day of the year, when I was clearly in line to get that video gaming system —

I’m sorry. I digressed again.

Our bodies respond the same way. We get that burst of adrenaline and then a signal from our brains: run, fight, or how dare that woman snatch that last X-Box. What is she thinking? I mean the nerve of some people—

Today, however, using up our energy burst, we sit and take it, absorbing it like a sponge.

The problem is, eventually something has to give. Like a sponge, when we reach the maximum we can handle, we start getting the people around us all wet.

The leftover stress causes all kinds of medical conditions from depression, to joint pain to headaches that all the Advil in the world won’t take away because that lady had no right—

Never mind.

So what do we do?

There’s the easy way out with drinking adult beverages or eating comfort foods or popping pills. But that usually just prolongs the real problem.

We can try exercising the stress away. It works too. Kicking and punching a sand-filled bag feels so good as you imagine the face of that lady trying to block your blows with her new X-Box that was just so important.

There are plenty of relaxation techniques like yoga, certain martial arts or prayer and meditation.

But in the end, there’s really only one thing that alleviates stress. Shots of tequila.
Haha. That’s a joke, everyone knows tequila just dries you out. Whiskey is the way to go.

Just kidding.

For me, the real cure for stress is living in the now. Right Now.

When that driver cuts you off, or the boss starts yelling or that shopper, that one lady, takes the last blasted video game console … just pause, take a deep breath and look around.
What do you see? What do you hear, smell or feel? What do you have to be thankful for? What can you learn?

It’s not about what happened yesterday or five years ago or what will happen five years from now.

There is no stress in the right now.

Breathe. Observe. Release. Enjoy. Live.

Wow. That really works. But I still better get an X-Box for Christmas or I’m gonna be … ugh. Just breathe. And pass me that bottle.

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